Sunday, March 30, 2008

Davidson's swan song

I like watching college basketball. During the season I usually only care about Big Ten teams, but during March Madness I'm all about the underdog. Today 10-seed Davidson played 1-seed Kansas for the last final four spot. Davidson's a great team, surprised every team they played, and Stephen Curry is a phenom as far as offense goes. They had a legitimate shot at making it ... and they lost 57-59. It was an excellent game, full of ups and downs and a close score the entire time (the biggest lead was Kansas by six at one point). Every one of those kids played with heart. They could have won. But instead we have 4 1-seeds as the final four. How boring.

On a different note, yesterday somebody backed into my car in a parking lot. This is the second time that has happened to me. I swear to God my next car will be lime green.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Excuse me while I try bulemia on for size

Check this out. While my inner teen says "yay!", my outer adult says, "come on." I mean, I'm glad they're reissuing the books, because they were favorites of mine as a kid and they'll do well in the current market atmophere. However, do they need to make girls feel any worse than they already do about their looks? Seriously. Is being a size six all that bad?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Industrial-strength crud

So, um, yeah. It turns out I have a sinus infection, an ear infection, and I'm working on a mild case of pinkeye. I'm on antibiotics now. Amoxicillin, thy name is love. I also get to do nasal irrigation with saline four times a day, which is just as much fun as it sounds.

My working theory is that I had the flu late last week and that opened me up for all the creepy-crawly goodness.

Honestly, I didn't think I had an infection until someone suggested it to me at work yesterday because other than my raw-from-wiping nose, I'm not in pain. Pressure, sure, and full of snot, but my face and ears don't hurt. My eyes burn a little but that's it. Oh, and I haven't tasted anything for four days, so I have no real appetite, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

So I get to brave one more day of work (hopefully I'll get to leave early) and then spend all this weekend recuperating. I'm not even going to feel guilty about not writing. I'm going to sleep and read and watch comfy movies and listen to the thunderstorms we're supposed to have.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The cruds, I gots it

Avoid this year's strain of influenza at all costs. Seriously. It's nothing to fuck around with. All day Saturday I rotated between sleeping with a blanket, sleeping without a blanket, watching t.v., and walking back and forth to the bathroom. Talk about fatigue--the amount of energy it took me to walk from the living room to the kitchen to get a glass of water nearly did me in. And let's not even talk about aches and pains--at one point I took and shower and cut it short because the water falling on my body hurt. Sunday I spent the day blowing two quarts of snot out of my nose, but I had a bit more energy so I was okay with that. Today I stayed home from work, blew even more snot outta my sinuses, and even mustered the energy to surf the web, take a shower, and do a load of laundry. Tomorrow I might be nearly normal.

I hate being sick. I had plans this weekend--Chicago, Carrollton, and Peoria, two of them events that will not be replicated--and I didn't get to do a single one.

On a brighter note, How I Met Your Mother is on tonight. It's on the bubble for pick-up next year, so if you've not watched it, give it a try. Neil Patrick Harris needs all the viewers he can get.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I've worked that last three weekends in a row, and what does that net me? A weekend off, right? Why, yes it does. Apparently I haven't been living right, though, because I've caught a cold. Right now it's in my chest as well as my head. All that laundry and writing I'd hoped to get done with weekend? Eh, maybe. Most likely I'll be camped out on the couch with a magazine and a book and a bottle of juice. The only downside is that so far, I haven't lost my appetite ... so no sickness-related weight loss for me. If you're gonna be sick, you might as well lose a pound or three, am I right?

I. Love. Judy. Greer.

I've loved her ever since she played the freaky outcast in Jawbreaker. I loved her before anyone knew who she was. An executive over at ABC finally got a clue and cast her as the lead in a new series called Miss Guided. (Though it might have been Ashton Kutcher that got the clue--he's the executive producer of the show.) She is just so geeky and real and honest and awesome. Don't believe me? Check her out here.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Happy Pi day, everyone! Watch out, world: the geeks are about to celebrate.

Today my niece is in town checking out the University. Ken and I were on campus for a bit to have lunch with her. While there, we saw two hot girls from the math club were selling pieces of pie in observance of Pi day. Yeah, you read that right: two hot girls from the math club. We wondered if they were actually members or if they'd been recruited for selling. Or perhaps they were smart enough to realize that the math geeks are going to be the ones makin' all the money after graduation and so decided to invest in their future and became Math Club Groupies.

At work the micro department observed pi day by bringing in pies. I was actually sort of bummed to have the day off ... but they promised to save me a piece of peanut butter pie so I have that to look forward to tomorrow. It'll make working Saturday a little bit sweeter, yes?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Odds and Ends

There's a rumor going around that it's going to be 60 degrees on Wednesday.

I. Am. So. Pumped.

Watching Raiders of the Lost Ark right now. I can't wait for the new one to come out in May. I'm a fan of Harrison Ford, of course, but I'm anxious to see if Shia Lebouf can pull of the role of the son.

Speaking of movies, last night a friend and I watched the Scream trilogy. The first and second ones are classics, but the third one fell a little short on plot and tension. It felt too forced. A big reason for that, I think, is because the third movie had a different screenwriter than the first two.

Lots going on this week. Gym on Monday, taxes on Wednesday, niece in town on Thursday and Friday for a campus visit, work this weekend. The new writing goal is to have a rough draft of the short story done by the end of the week. Fingers crossed and all that.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Book Reviews

Okay, okay, okay. I know I have a section of my website that's supposed to be for book reviews, but the spousal unit is way busy with school, so until he can update the site, this will have to do.

Dead To Me by Anton Strout
In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that Anton is a good writer-friend of mine (as you've already figured out from my posts here and here). I didn't know until I bought the book that my mentor, Kelly "Y" McCullough, blurbed it. I can totally see why he did; there are a lot of similarities between Kelly's and Anton's storytelling (first person, fast-paced, world-based.)
Dead To Me follows Simon Canderous, a guy who is psychometric. What's Psychometry, you ask? It's the ability to divine the history of an object just by touching it. Cool, right? Not so much when you touch a potential girlfriend's cell phone and learn enough about her last tryst to completely turn you off. However, this ability is great when you work for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs in New York City. The members of the DEA spend their under-budgeted, over-worked time solving crimes of the zombie-vampire-otherworldly sort. Simon's got a "misspent youth" past that lends a little bit of credibility to the character without making him unlikeable. The plot was at times a little jumpy, but the writing was crisp and funny and so I could go with it. I would recommend it if you're looking for an enjoyable way to kill a few evenings.

Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry
I don't know Mark at all, but let me tell you, I can't wait to meet this guy at a con. Any married man that can write about clothing by name-dropping designers is tops in my book. Happy Hour of the Damned follows a Seattle woman named Amanda Feral who, unbeknownst to her and against her will, gets made into a zombie. Amanda is bitchy, shallow, materialistic, and selfish; all of this is okay, though, because Amanda is well aware of her flaws and refused to apologize for them. She is who she is and if you don't like it, fuck off. She quickly befriends Wendy (a like-minded zombie), Gil (a flamin' gay vampire) and Lisel (a succubus). Lisel sends Amanda a text message that simply says "Help" before disappearing off the face of the earth. Amanda and her friends try and find her and get tangled in a World Domination plot along the way. There's lots of fun world-building here, as well as gratuitous cursing, bulimia jokes, splatter-rific gore, and fashion. While the plot is a little jumpy (at one point I had to flip pages to refresh my memory about a character who turned out to be A Bad Person.) Amanda is wonderfully flawed, the tone is satirical and fresh, and there's footnotes. Reading this was time well spent, but stay away if you find eating homeless people insulting.

I win!

Sort of. I didn't get the story written today like I wanted to ... but whatevs. I'm having trouble bringing the funny; I think I need to flesh out the character a little bit more and try a different approach. Round two starts Sunday (I work tomorrow.)

Other than that, the day went pretty well. I got most of the laundry and grocery shopping done. I also watched Chicago, which is a favorite of mine. I own the soundtrack so I know all the songs by heart, so I sang along during the entire movie. I'm not afraid to admit I even danced around a bit. My cat Morgan weaved around my feet and meowed, so I guess you could say we were singing a duet. Okay, that sounded a lot more "crazy cat lady" than I intended, so maybe forget you read that last little bit.

Wanna hear something crazier? When I watch musicals or music videos or live music or a play, sometimes I get a little nudge in my chest: I wanna do that. It makes me wonder if I weren't an entertainer of some sort in a past life, or if I'm going to be in the next one. One can argue that a writer is an entertainer ... but it's not live. Well, unless you're giving a reading or something. But still ... something about getting up in front of people and really letting it rip, really putting yourself out there, intrigues me. The only acting I've ever done was the senior play in high school, and I was ... okay in that, I think. Not great. But not sucky, either. This all comes around to my theory that artists (writers, painters, actors, directors) have a lot in common.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Day off

Tomorrow I have the day off work, and I swear I'm going to be busier than if I went in. On the to-do list:
Laundry (yikes)
Write short story (lofty, but doable)
Run on the treadmill (gotta get some of this schlebby winter flab off)
Pay bills (yuck)
Make tax appointment (double yuck)
Make dinner (easy-peasy, in the crock-pot)
Maybe see a movie (not sure which one yet)

And you know, maybe read a book or something somewhere in there. We'll see how much gets done. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inspirational speaker

So Ken over the past few days had a work conference. I joined him--who am I to turn down a hotel room and food?--and it was a nice, relaxing time. Ken works with an Illinois agency whose purpose is to organize statewide law enforcement in the event of an emergency. There were lots of panels that dealt with terrorists, pandemics, bridge collapses, and the like. While I didn't attend any of those--I shopped and napped and read and relaxed instead--I did attend the dinner on Monday night. I am so glad I did, because I got to hear the guest speaker. I forget his name, but he was an insurance executive that was on the 105th floor of 2 World Trade Center on 9/11/01. His first-person account of the event was by turns terrifying and wrenching and inspirational. Mostly he talked about how every single decision that we make every single day is important, and that keeping your cool and being rational during a crisis can save your ass.

This guy was in a meeting when the first plane struck the other tower. He was in an interior room with no windows; the lights flickered, but that was all. They couldn't hear or see anything else. Soon after the volunteer fire marshal came and corralled them up, saying he couldn't leave until everyone left the floor. So they took the stairs down, down, down. He following people out onto the 90th floor lobby; at the time he didn't know why everyone left the stairwell, but he followed--maybe they had to take another set of stairs or something--but once he was out of the stairwell he saw that the 90th floor was all windows. He got to see the destruction for the first time. He remembered thinking, "It's a clear, beautiful day. How did that pilot miss?"

He commenced going down, down, down. Hits the 78th floor. A woman that he knew well was corralling everyone into the elevators--there was still power and all that in the second tower, so why the heck not, right? This guy didn't follow the woman he knew; something just told him not to. He continues to go down the stairs. Once he hits the 75th or 72nd floor (I don't remember which), he and his fellow descenders feel a huge ball of heat, hear a horrible sound, and the walls of the stairwell rocked back and forth at 30 degree angles. Debris fell. Handrails popped from the walls. He didn't know it at the time, but the second plane had just hit, and everyone he knew that had followed the woman into the elevators is dead. He mentions how the friction from the plane entering the building generated 2000 degrees F of heat; those people were vaporized. They literally didn't know what hit them. They were alive. And then they weren't.

He remembers how calm everyone was; the stairwell fit three people across and that's how everyone went down. People had taken off jackets, discarded laptops and other equipment, women had tossed their heels, but all of that had been pushed to the sides; it didn't block the road. Down, down, down.

At one point, he helped an obese woman descend. She said she couldn't do it. He said she had to. At another, a maintenance man's walkie-talkie squealed with a voice that said, "We're on the 82nd floor, we're stuck" and the dude trucked back up the stairs to help his friend.

Later--and I don't remember where he said he was, maybe the 30th floor?--he saw some firefighters and police officers on their way up. He said the men were silent, but their faces said it all. They were going to fight a fire they couldn't contain; they were climbing to their deaths. And they went, without complaint or question.

On the fifteenth floor, a worker--maintenance man, maybe--sang "God Bless America" and between each line shouted encouragement to all the descenders. The speaker likened it to the musicians that played while the Titanic sank, and he could just imagine what the singer's superior had told him: keep their spirits up, make them laugh, do what it takes to get them out of the building. The speaker left through the lower mall and out the street. He spoke about the smoke and falling debris and red blotches from the falling bodies. Eight minutes after he exited the building, it collapsed. He said he can hear the sound of the building falling mixed with the noise of a million people screaming at once every day. He was able to get a subway to Penn Station, take a train to his parent's home in Philly, then drive to his home outside Chicago. He attended Wednesday night Mass at his church with his wife.

He ended the speech by thanking the room full of law enforcement officers for everything they do and reminding everyone once again that every decision you make every day makes a difference. I have never felt so inspired and insignificant at the same time.